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How to Fail, No Matter What You Do

I’ve spent a considerable portion of my career helping others with their struggles and challenges, including work and career problems of varying magnitude. Patterns become evident over time. I’ve observed that we human beings have an awful lot in common—for example, most of us are really just trying to succeed at something.

Interestingly, there is one common pain point that comes up again and again in my counseling work. Even the most successful, have-it-all people will hit a bump in the road when they make this one critical, yet common error:

They compare themselves with others.

Think about it. When you compare yourself with another person, or compare your life with another person’s life, you are actually comparing your entire existence, flaws and all, with a small piece of them—their public persona. Chances are, they have faced ups, downs, twists, and turns that easily rival yours. Chances are even better that they could take that same look at your public persona and come away feeling as if they do not measure up. Feel better?

There are some other recurring themes, including some that appear to be indicators of a life well-lived. Here are three tips to stay on the right road to this type of true success:

1. Make sure there are at least three significant people in your life. This can be anyone, and bear in mind that a spouse/intimate partner is not a must-have here. It may even be a neighbor or co-worker. The only requirement is that you select people whom you can count upon during the rough patches, and enjoy sharing life with in the good times. 

2. Work hard at something. Never lose sight of good old-fashioned hard work and the satisfaction that can come of it. There is no need to toil needlessly and endlessly, but find something to do that takes an appropriately balanced amount of your time, attention, and energy.

3. Treat others in a dignified manner. Note: perfection is not a realistic goal here. You and I will most assuredly blow up and say the wrong thing from time to time. However, care about how your affect others because you care about who you are, regardless of who they are, or even—gasp!—how they treat you.

If you really want to compare yourself to something or someone, seek out examples of good character, and use those as a barometer for your own success. Don’t spend time worrying about those who have amassed more toys, fame, money or accomplishments; that is the one certain road to dissatisfaction.

By Mark Hyde for Work Her Way